Two meteor showers in October

Leonid_meteor_shower_as_seen_from_space_(1997)

By Mario Carr

Two minor meteor showers will grace our skies this month.

The Draconid meteor shower peaks Sunday, Oct. 8 and is best seen just after sunset. The shower appears to be coming from the Draco constellation. The Orionid meteor shower also peaks and is best seen during the evening of Friday, Oct. 20 into the morning of Saturday, Oct. 21.

This year, the moon sets early Friday evening, leaving a darker sky to help you spot streaking meteors. Don’t expect a show like the Perseids meteor shower back in August when it was possible to see up to 100 meteors per hour.

During the Orionids, you would be lucky to see 20 meteors per hour. The best way to enjoy any meteor shower is to lay on a blanket or lounge chair in a dark location and stare up into the night sky to enjoy the show.

Here are October stargazing events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Planet watching

Mercury appears low in the western evening sky later in the month. Venus loses its dominance as it moves lower in the eastern dawn sky. Mars is seen in the dawn sky. Jupiter is low in the south western evening sky early in the month. Saturn is low in the south western evening sky setting late evening.

Oct. 5 – Venus is extremely close to Mars in the eastern dawn sky. The Full Moon called the Hunter’s Moon rises at sunset.

Oct. 13 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers annual general meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated. Kevin Salwach will discuss this day in astronomy.

Oct. 17 – The Moon is close to Mars and above Venus at dawn. Sunlight reflecting off dust particles in the solar system, known as Zodiacal Light, can be seen from a dark location in the eastern predawn sky for the next two weeks.

Oct. 21 — Public observing at the Grimsby Niagara Gateway Tourism Centre.

Oct. 24 – The Moon is above Saturn in the evening sky.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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Jupiter and Venus dominate the night sky

By Mario Carr

Jupiter and Venus will outshine all the other planets and stars in the heavens for the next few months.

Bright Venus can be seen as the “morning star” just before sunrise in the eastern dawn sky. If you’re up early, it will be easy to see relatively high in the sky for July and August. On July 20, the planet will make a close encounter with the crescent Moon. These close encounters are always amazing even with the naked eye and make impressive photographs.

Jupiter the king of the planets can be seen in the southwest evening sky and is a great object to see through your telescope or binoculars. Every night it will sink lower in the sky. On July 28, it will make a close encounter with the crescent Moon.

Here are July stargazing events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Planet watching

Mercury can be seen in the western evening twilight sky. Mars is too close to the Sun to be seen. Saturn can be seen in the evening sky.

July 3 – Even though it’s summer, the Sun is furthest from our planet for the entire year at more than 152 million kilometres. Our average distance to the Sun is about 149.6 kilometres. This distance is called an Astronomical Unit and is used as a measuring stick to far away objects by astronomers.

July 6 – The Moon will be close and above Saturn in the southern evening sky. Both objects are closets just before midnight. Through a telescope, you can see Saturn’s open rings.

July 9 – This month’s Full Moon is known as the Full Buck Moon or Thunder Moon.

July 13 – Venus is close and above star Aldebaran at dawn.

July 25 – Mercury is just blow star Regulus and close to the crescent Moon low at dusk.

July 27 – The Southern Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower peaks.

July 29 – From 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., Public Stargazing Night at McQuesten Park located at 1199 Upper Wentworth Street in Hamilton.

July 30 – Mercury is at its greatest distance from the Sun and easier to spot during evening twilight.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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The May Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower

By Mario Carr

The Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower peaks May 5 and is best seen lying on a lounge chair in a dark location away from city lights after midnight.

The Southern Hemisphere of the Earth will have the best view with most of the activity but we could see about 30 meteors per hour. The meteors will appear to be radiating from the constellation Aquarius but can also appear anywhere in the night sky.

However, this year’s waxing gibbous Moon will wash out many of the fainter meteors but you could still see the brighter ones. The shower is caused by dust particles left behind by comet Halley that has swept by Earth’s orbit since antiquity. If you miss the peak, don’t worry. You could still see some stranglers until May 28.

Here are May stargazing events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Planet watching

Mercury can be seen at dawn and Venus can be seen in the morning sky. Jupiter can be seen in the evening sky. Saturn can be seen in the morning sky.

May 2 – First-quarter Moon

May 4 – The Moon and star Regulus are extremely close.

May 7 – The Moon and Jupiter are close in the evening sky.

May 10 –This month’s Full Moon is also known as the Flower Moon, Corn Planting Moon or Milk Moon.

May 12 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated. This month’s scheduled speaker is Wayne Parker.

May 13 – The Moon and Saturn are close in the morning sky.

May 17 — Mercury is at greatest western elongation away from the Sun making it higher above the horizon and easier to spot at dawn.

May 18 – Last-quarter Moon

May 22 – The Moon and Venus are close in the morning sky.

May 23 – The Moon is close to Mercury at dawn.

May 27 — Public observing evening with the club at Hamilton’s McQuesten Community, Park, 1199 Upper Wentworth Street.

May 31 – The Moon and star Regulas are close together.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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Telescope clinic helps keep your eyes on the skies

By Mario Carr

As the nights become longer there is more time to enjoy the wonders of night sky with your telescope.

If you’re not sure how to use it, or plan to buy one as a gift, the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers has a solution. They’re having their Telescope Clinic and Open House on Saturday November 19 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Hamilton Spectator Building, Frid Street in Hamilton.

You’ll find knowledgeable amateur astronomers with their telescopes and gear to answer all your celestial questions. This is a great opportunity if you’re thinking about getting into astronomy. Learn where to get started, the type of gear you should buy and more importantly avoid.

If you’re already an amateur astronomer, this is also a great way to take your hobby to the next level. You’ll learn about CCD imaging, auto guiding and more. An optional non-perishable food donation for the Hamilton Food Share program will also be collected and appreciated at this family event.

Here are November stargazing events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Planet watching

Mercury can be seen in the western evening twilight sky after November 13. Bright Venus can be seen in the western evening sky. Mars sets mid-evening. Jupiter is low in the morning sky.

November 2 – The crescent Moon is above Venus and Saturn in the evening sky.

November 5 – The crescent Moon is above Mars in the evening sky.

November 6 – Move your clocks back an hour because daylight time ends and standard time begins.

November 7 – First quarter Moon.

November 11 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated.

November 14 – The Full Moon called the Beaver Moon happens to be a supermoon.

November 16 – The Leonid meteor shower peaks under moonlight and is best seen after midnight.

November 21 – The last quarter Moon is close to Regulas.

November 24 and 26 – The crescent Moon is near Jupiter in the morning sky.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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Binbrook Perseids meteor shower night

By Mario Carr

Don’t miss Hamilton Amateur Astronomers free Perseids Meteor shower night at Binbrook Conservation Area on Friday, August 12.

Located at 5050 Harrison Rd, Binbrook, the park will waive its gate fees from 8 p.m-11 p.m. The event has always been a crowd pleaser, drawing hundreds of visitors from as far away as Toronto.

If you plan to attend, you don’t need a telescope. Just bring a blanket, groundsheet or lounge chair because lying down is the preferred method to enjoy the cosmic show. You can also listen to a night sky tour, touch meteorites and gaze through telescopes.

Mosquitoes could be nasty at this time of year, so apply repellent, wear pants and a long sleeve shirt. The club will be collecting a volunteer donation for local food banks and any help you can give would be appreciated. The event may be cancelled due to the weather so check the club’s website before leaving home.

The meteor shower receives its name because it appears to be radiating from the Perseus constellation. Most meteors will be faint but some will have long bright tails lasting several seconds.

You could see 40-100 meteors per hour. If you start looking tonight, you could see some meteors and the show is expected to last until August 26. The meteor shower happens every year, at this time, when the Earth moves through dust particles left behind from Comet109P/Swift-Tuttle that appeared in 1992.

Planet watching

Mercury can be seen in evening twilight. Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn can all be seen in the western evening sky.

Here are August stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

August 4 – The Moon is below Mercury in the evening twilight sky.

August 5 – The Moon is below Jupiter low in evening twilight.

August 11 – The Moon is close to Saturn and Mars in the evening sky.

August 25 – The Moon is in the Hyades star cluster in the morning sky.

August 30 – From a dark location for the next two weeks, you can see light reflecting off dust particles in the solar system known as Zodiacal light in the eastern predawn sky.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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Calling all amateur astronomers

After travelling almost three billion kilometres at 26.9km per second, Juno will arrive at Jupiter on July 4.

NASA is asking all amateur astronomers to upload their images of Jupiter at missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam. You can even vote for the best location in Jupiter’s atmosphere for the JunoCam to capture.

Summer begins with planets Saturn and Mars hugging the horizon in the southern sky shortly after evening twilight. Near the planetary duo, you can see a group of eight stars forming a pattern in the sky or asterism known as the Summer Tea Pot.

A band of stars from the Milky Way stretching across the sky looks like steam coming off its spout. Among the stars of the Milky Way close to the Tea Pot you can see the Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae. Thousands of light years away, these star forming gas clouds are impressive even though binoculars.

If you look overhead, you can see a group of bright stars forming the Summer Triangle. Vega is directly overhead or in the zenith in the constellation Lyra, Altair in the southeast in the constellation Aquila and Deneb is in northeast in the constellation Cygnus.

Planet watching

Here are July stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Venus reappears from behind the sun in the middle of the month. It shines brightly low in the evening sky. Mars sets after midnight. Jupiter is low in the western sky setting near midnight. Uranus and Neptune rise late evening.

July 4: The Earth is furthest from the Sun for 2016 at 152 million km.

July 8: The Moon is close and below Jupiter in the evening sky.

July 14: The Moon is above Mars in the evening sky.

July 15: The Moon is close and above Saturn in the evening sky.

July 16: Mercury is very close to Venus low in the west after sun set.

July 19: Full Moon.

July 28: Southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower peaks.

July 29: The Moon is extremely close to star Aldebaran in the morning sky.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website or call 905-627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr, the author of this report, is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca or on Twitter (@MarioCCarr).

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June’s rare summer solstice full moon

By Mario Carr

This year, you can see a rare full moon during the shortest night of the year on June 20 when the summer solstice occurs.

The last time this happened was back in 1986 and if you want to see it again you have to wait another 46 years until 2062. Technically, the Full Moon occurs at 7:02 a.m 11 hours before the Solstice at 6:34 p.m.

For most of the month, Saturn steals the celestial spotlight. The planet’s northern hemisphere will be tipping towards Earth by 26 degrees so its rings will appear open and wide as possible. A great view any telescope.

Saturn will be at it’s brightest on June 3 when it will be at opposition or at its closet point to the Earth. It can be seen all night rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. Through a telescope, right beside the famed ringed planet, you can see bright moons Dione, Tethys, Rhea and Titan.

Planet watching

Here are June stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Mercury can be seen in the south eastern morning sky. Venus is too close to the Sun to see. On June 6, the planet will be behind the Sun or at Superior Conjunction. Mars can be seen most of the night. Jupiter can be seen in the western evening sky setting after midnight. Uranus can be hard to see low in the eastern predawn sky. Neptune rises after midnight.

June 5 – Mercury will be at its greatest distant from the Sun but very low in the morning sky.

June 10 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated.

June 11 – The Moon is near Jupiter in the evening sky.

June 12 – First-quarter Moon

June 16 — The Moon is above Mars in the evening sky.

June 18 – The Moon is above Saturn in the evening sky.

June 26 – Neptune is close to the Moon.

June 27 – Last-quarter Moon

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.
Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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